17 Event Photography Tips You Need to Know to Get Started

Photograph events in your life to build a portfolio.

This can be birthday parties, music festivals, concerts or pretty much anything you’re attending as a guest.

Volunteer your time to the right organization.

As a principle, you should avoid working for free for people that can and should pay for a professional. However, volunteering for something like a non profit organization you believe in can be a great way to build your portfolio and support good cause.

Learn from a pro.

Start by assisting or second shooting for a seasoned professional. There are so many benefits to learning from someone rather than going it alone. Even if you are pretty familiar with the technical side of photography, you can learn go to settings, all about the gear you need, and other aspects of what its like to cover an event and run a business. By shadowing someone with experience, you can develop a template to follow or make your own when it comes to building your own business.

Leverage your connections.

Don’t be afraid to put it out there that you are building a portfolio or that you have already begun a professional photography business. If you’re lucky, you already happen to know event planners and such that you can network with.

Buy lenses first.

Camera bodies depreciate in value and by the time you are able to get the most out of one, something better will be released. Lenses, however, hold their value and are much more responsible for the quality of your images than a camera body.

Buy the lenses you will use most first.

Don’t be tempted by niche lenses like a 135mm (which I love by the way). I happen to love that lens, but it by far gets less use than a 24-70mm or 70-200mm lens.

Buy fast memory cards.

Trust me, its worth it. Not only will a fast card help with shooting speed and recording in certain video modes, but it will also just make the process of uploading your work faster.

Setting rates

Start low and incrementally raise them until you see a drop off in how much work you’re getting.

Always show up to a job early

Not only will this give you peace of mind, but it will also give you time to photograph static detail shots so that you are able to focus on what's happening once the event starts. .

Always dress appropriately.

If you’re not sure how to dress, don’t be afraid to ask your client. You should always over dress over under dressing.

Smile to get people to smile back

Most people can not resist smiling back when you smile at them. It’s human nature. If you want people to smile, simply give them a big smile and they will reciprocate!

Make meaningful images! Never take a photo to take a photo. Shoot with intention.

I go into great detail in the full version of these tips. But the short version of it is that you should always be striving to make images that are actually about something. Never raise the camera to your eye just to make an image. Know what it is you are trying to capture. Shoot with intention.

Mix your shots up to tell a story

Watch the whole video where I cover shot types. Here they are:

Establishing shots

Detail Shots:

Close Candids

Candid Interactions


Under promise / over deliver

Give realistic turn around times but always give yourself a buffer. If you think the edit will take 3 days, tell them it will take a week.

Cull your images.

Meticulously edit down your work. Do not put the burden of this on your client. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to find your best work, especially when your images will be used for social media or marketing.

Rate your photos!

Use my 5 star system or make up your own, but rate your photos now rather than later. You do not want to go through the laborious task of doing this a year from now when you decide to update your portfolio.

Maintain your clients

Be sure to stay in touch with your client after the job and develop a relationship. One way to do this is by using a mailing service like mail chimp.


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